Sunday, February 25, 2018
Sports

'Hail Mary' to 'Hail Larry'— this one had it all

It was a bizarre night in the desert.

Arizona's overtime win Saturday over the Green Bay Packers featured much more than Aaron Rodgers' latest "Hail Mary" and the Cardinals' "Hail Larry." There was a coin flip that didn't flip, Patrick Peterson's 100-yard interception return that didn't count, and Randall Cobb's one-handed 51-yard catch called back by offsetting penalties.

And then there was the coin toss going into overtime.

It was a "debacle," Rodgers said.

He called "tails" and referee Clete Blakeman tossed the coin into the air and it fell to the turf.

"It was just tossed in the air and did not turn over at all and landed on the ground," Rodgers said. "So we obviously thought that was not right. He picked the coin up and ... he flipped it (again) without giving me a chance to make a recall there. It was confusing. I think he was trying to avoid the embarrassment of what just happened and flip it quickly."

The coin landed on heads — both times — and Arizona got the ball to start the overtime.

Just to get the game to that point, Rodgers managed to pass for 101 yards — on two completions — in the final 55 seconds of the fourth quarter.

Even more astounding, it was fourth-and-20 from the Packers' 4 when Rodgers took the snap, retreated into his end zone, scrambled to his left and finally let the pass fly.

Jeff Janis, who stands 6 feet 3, pulled it down at the Arizona 36, a 60-yard gain.

The Packers were out of timeouts, and they weren't set on the next snap. With 21 seconds to go, the ball was pushed back to the Cardinals 41. A short pass attempt fell incomplete and there were just five seconds left.

It was enough time for a final heave to the end zone, where Janis outjumped the All-Pro cornerback Peterson and safety Rashad Johnson to bring the ball down.

Janis hadn't had a touchdown catch in his career until he had two Saturday night.

He was seeing action because Davante Adams was out with a knee injury and Cobb was knocked out of the game with a chest injury sustained on a spectacular one-handed grab of Rodgers' 51-yard pass in the first quarter, a play that was negated by offsetting penalties.

Arizona coach Bruce Arians provided Rodgers enough time for the "Hail Mary" finish to regulation by, with his team leading 17-13, choosing to have Carson Palmer throw a pass on second-and-8 from the Green Bay 22 with 2:34 to play, rather than running the ball to use up time.

Did he regret it? "Oh, hell no," Arians said. "I never regret a call. ... I play to win. Ten-point game, it's over."

On the first play of overtime, Palmer rolled to his right to evade tacklers, then spotted Larry Fitzgerald alone on the far side of the field. The Cardinal receiver broke a handful of tackles as he made his way 75 yards downfield to the Green Bay 5.

Two plays later, Fitzgerald lined up in the backfield and took a shovel pass for the game-winning score.

"I can't tell you how many times I've run that shovel in practice and just waiting for my opportunity," Fitzgerald said, "and lo-and-behold, the second round of the playoffs you get your number called on a shovel. My eyes lit up in the huddle."

The stadium rocked with chants of "Lar-ry! Lar-ry!" and the Cardinals were headed to the NFC championship game against Carolina.

"It was nuts," Fitzgerald said. "It was nuts."

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